The Superiority of Laser Weaponry Versus Plasma in New Vegas ?

#1AlekTrev006Posted 7/2/2011 3:09:44 PM
This is meant to be somewhat controversial and cause some good debate amongst the Energy Weapon enthusiasts amongst us. I myself used to be a Guns guy (from Fallout 3 where everyone recommended in wikia, etc- to boost Small Guns because of how many weapons they tossed in the Small Guns category, and the ease of finding them in the early game).

Anyways....I've been playing my Fallout New Vegas - Energy Weapons character the last week or so - and have really enjoyed vaporizing enemies with frequent Critical Hits.

One thing I came to conclude (currently Level-32-ish, in Dead Money casino) ....is that Laser Weapons, maybe because of how strong they had made Plasma - particularly the Androids Unique Rifle - in Fallout 3, well.....Lasers seem to really beat out the Plasma weapons in New Vegas.

Why do I say this ? Well...the basic areas are:

1.) Laser Weapons seem to be inherently more accurate at range - both in VATS and outside of it.

2.) Laser Weapons fire MUCH faster than their Plasma brothers - meaning (in theory) more Damage Per Second is inflicted on a target.


Now, you might say, yes - but Plasma is heavier damage - by default. This MIGHT be true - and I would agree that they have differences that might balance out overall...were it not for ONE particular Perk that they put into New Vegas. . . . Laser Commander.

Laser Commander gives a strong boost to the basic Damage-% of all Laser weaponry, as well as a further 10% Critical Hit chance increase.

These two things seem - on their own - to really boost Lasers over equivalent Plasma weapons. Just try a basic test yourself - make a Crit-Heavy build and take the Q-35 against Deathclaws or something with high health (note I'm playing on Very Hard difficulty most of the time, so this might color the analsyis because - on Normal - almost everything dies way too easily when you are high level with high-end weaponry).

Then take the AER-14 Prototype or Gatling Laser or such, with Laser Commander active, and you will likely score many more Critical Hits, and thus deal more overall damage to the Deathclaws, than you were with the Q-35.

Additionally, the ability to land hit after hit with rapid speed (which the Lasers can do) - really seems to stand out, especially if you assume both guns are being used with Max-Charge Ammo for the big -10 to the target's DT value. With this being considered, the Laser weapons seem able to actually deal more hit-point damage to a target by firing 3-times and hitting, in the time most of the Plasma weapons are firing 1-2 green blasts out. A notable exception is the Plasma Caster with the HS-Electrode to enhance firing speed. With that, the weapon is ALMOST as quick as the nearly instantaneous Laser beams - and deals very heavy damage.

Still, it requires a very high skill to use effectively, plus a big strength of 8, IIRC - so it's not a weapon you can put to very good use early on in the game. Also, it STILL suffers from the fact that Plasma weaponry gets no equivalent perk to Laser Commander in this game. The only "unique" thing they get is Plasma Spaz (technically) - and that just slightly reduces AP - and does nothing to Damage or Crit Chance.


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Conclusion: Laser seems inherently better than Plasma in this game, with the way they put the Perk structure and the appearance of Laser Commander, but no equivalent "Plasma Lord" or some similiar (Maybe Plasma Lord would boost rate of fire by 10% and increase Crit chance by 5% or something - to bring the two weapon types back into alignment ?).

I welcome thoughts and other ideas on these two sub-classes of Energy Weapons, and would be glad to hear from other players who have tried out both "builds" before.
#2AkridosityPosted 7/2/2011 3:20:40 PM
Whatever the YCS is.
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#3gna647Posted 7/2/2011 3:21:05 PM
Pulse gun solos
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#4RampagingwalrusPosted 7/2/2011 3:45:54 PM
AlekTrev006 posted...
Conclusion: Laser seems inherently better than Plasma in this game, with the way they put the Perk structure and the appearance of Laser Commander, but no equivalent "Plasma Lord" or some similiar (Maybe Plasma Lord would boost rate of fire by 10% and increase Crit chance by 5% or something - to bring the two weapon types back into alignment ?).

Plasma Spaz is "Plasma"s Laser Commander. Sure it sucks balls, but it's still there.
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#5VortexContinuumPosted 7/2/2011 4:04:34 PM
Plasma is better for close-range VATS spamming.
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#6tw1g_007Posted 7/2/2011 4:07:55 PM
Only 3 things have heavily damaged me to "panic levels" in close to 300hrs of new vegas play and they are:

1) Deathclaw strikes.

2) Cazador Swarms

3) During Veronica's quest when we got ambushed by the BoS. Letme tell you... those Gatling Lazer Strikes hurt like hell and I died pretty quickly when I didn't kill them fast enough.

I don't know about any other Laser weapons but I can fully attest to the ridiculousness of the Gatling Laser lol.
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#7DuckyhunterPosted 7/2/2011 4:24:05 PM
Ghoul Ecology made the Precision Gatling Laser the best weapon in Fallout 3.

So this isn't that ground-breaking.
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#8AlekTrev006(Topic Creator)Posted 7/2/2011 4:44:34 PM
Yes, but Ghoul Ecology is bugged (according to The Vault) and does not work like it was "meant" to work. Therefore it's not exactly the same (at all) as New Vegas where they clearly made a perk - Laser Commander - that seems to make Laser Weapons a far better choice than Plasma - for a character interested in more Critical Hits, and consequently, more damage.


Like the poster above noted, "Plasma Spaz" is the Plasma-lovers "Laser Commander" - and if that's the case, it sucks mightily because the 10% lower AP does not make up for the massive amount of improved damage / crits you get from going the Laser route.

Also - as noted (I forgot to mention them) - the Gatling Lasers, with all Mods and Laser Commander....are terrifyingly powerful - much more so than the Plasma Caster - due to sheer rate of fire advantage (even considering HS-Electrode mod for the P-C).

Again, the Laser Commander perk seems to be the unbalancing thing in the comparisons. Assume two equal Crit-heavy builds (Plasma and Laser)

10-Luck, 5-Finesse, 5-NCR 1st Recon, 5-Light Touch, 3-Grahams Armor, 3-Built to Destroy, 4-Set Lasers for Fun ! = 35% Crit Chance without VATS with a Plasma Build.

Assume the +5% for VATS, as the Plasma player will almost certainly take Plasma Spaz perk to get the reduced AP costs, so a total of 40% Crit Chance, in VATS - not counting weapon modifiers.


Assume the same setup above, but factor in a +10% boost to the Critical Chance for the mighty Laser Commander perk. Now the equation looks like 45% outside of VATS, and 50% in VATS. With the AER-14 Laser Rifle, you get a 2x Critical Chance, meaning 100% of your shots (in VATS) are Critical Hits.


The gun does 35-base damage with standard cells, and 36 damage with a Critical (per the Vault Wikia). With Better Criticals, you get a +18 point boost to the Critical Hit value, meaning a total of 54-damage will be added to your basic 35 when you score a critical hit. This means, in VATS, your AER-14 is going to be dealing a grand total of 89-damage per shot - guaranteed !

I should also point out that this number ignores Bloody Mess, Laser Commanders' damage boost, or the Lord Death (minor) boost !!! It also ignores Max-Charge fusion cell ammunition, which would make the damage totals even more ridiculous.


I just don't see how Plasma weapons can stand up to these kinds of numbers in New Vegas. (clearly Plasma was the better option in Fallout-3, with the Unique Rifle, which is why I think they might have shifted things the other way in Vegas - but perhaps too far).
#9lopham4Posted 7/2/2011 5:42:26 PM(edited)
Alright...ima huge energy weapon lover...and I am a Plasma master...I will argue that Plasma is clearly better for the mid-range to close range over lasers...and that long range lasers are bad late game.

Alright..lets compare the Q35 with its rival the AER-14. With laser commander perk both Q35 and AER-14 will do a base damage of around 43 damage and both possess a critical multiplier of x2. Now where the big difference is in the critical damage and the total critical chance. With all the perks (better critical, finesse, etc.) the AER-14 will do a total damage of around 97 damage at a 100% critical chance. However, the Q35 will do a total damage of 136 damage at an 80% chance. Now, you can nitpick that 100% is better but to me 80% is pretty much guaranteed in my opinion. There is a reason that I bring Q35 to deathclaw promontory instead of AER-14...because Q35 can kill a deathclaw in 1 critical hit to the head, while the AER-14 does not (which gives the deathclaws more chance to get closer to you). While its true that lasers fire faster than plasma...plasma kills things in one hit rather than waste more time fire shots to kill the same enemy (against groups of deathclaws...you would definitely want to be more efficient and kill things on the first hit rather than allow them to get any closer to you).

Long range wise...YES, lasers are clearly more accurate than Plasma but there is absolutely NO laser weapons worth it in the long range (in fact the only option is a modded out laser rifle) which sucks in comparison to the YCS or holorifle.

The only laser weapon that will outclass plasma is the pew pew and alien blaster.
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#10AlekTrev006(Topic Creator)Posted 7/3/2011 3:42:53 AM
You are right about the Q-35...it's the only Plasma heavy-hitter that has a 2x Critical Chance to equal the AER-14. I agree, it's quite strong.

But...there IS a difference between 80% and 100%....it's not 98% and 100%...it's an entire 20%. To put it another way, assume each weapon fires 10-times, for a simple example.


With the max Crit builds (assuming Better Criticals for both Laser and Plasma in this example) - you'll deal the standard 43.2 (assumes all the bonus perks like Lord Death, etc) damage per shot with Q-35...and when you critically hit, you'll slam the target with a further 93 damage ! - an enormous amount, no doubt.

So...in your 10-shot sample, at 80% Crit Rate with the Q-35...you'll have 2-shots which deal 43.2 each, equaling 86.4 damage from those "normal shots".

Then you'll also have those 8-shots of Critical damage, so 8 x 93 = 744 damage.


The total damage put out by the Q-35, then, is 744+86.4 = 830.4


Now...that's a huge amount, no doubt...but consider the AER-14 now, with its 100% guaranteed VATS critical hit (with the max Crit build we are talking about here for both weapons).

As you mentioned, the AER-14 does base damage of 43.1, with all the perks, almost exactly the same as the Q-35. However, when it Critically Hits (with Better Criticals assumed, same as above with the Plasma weapon) - it deals an additional 54 damage.

This means each shot from the AER-14, in VATS and scoring Critical Hits, deals a guaranteed 100% - 97.1 damage.

Do our simple 10-shot test again. 10 shots....ALL of them hitting for 97.1 = 971 !!!

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So, even in your example with the Q-35...the AER-14 will deal over 100-damage MORE, due to its 100% guaranteed crits. I think it's clear to say that the 20% difference is HUGE...and not as minor an issue as you presumed.


(Hopefully this whole thread is useful to other members of the forum thinking about choosing between Laser and Plasma, as I was for much of my game up till around Level-20ish, when I decided and Laser and set my sights on Laser Commander, the perk that really tips the balance to Laser's favor in New Vegas. My intention with the whole thing is to have a nice debate - and I appreciate everyone's comments and opinion so far).